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Wisconsin 7th Circuit decides on 2 FMLA and ADA leave cases

Some people have questions about an employer's responsibility to offer leave to employees. These questions have recently been decided upon by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court covering Wisconsin and neighboring states. A worker who has exhausted Family and Medical Leave Act time off may request additional leave though the Americans with Disabilities Act, but is the employer required to honor the ADA request? 

Most recently, the court has decided that no, the ADA leave does not have to be granted. If an employee is to be given the additional time off, it should be part of a reasonable accommodation. In two separate cases, the court decided that a multi-month leave of absence does not fall under the scope of reasonable accommodation as defined by the ADA.

Medical leave that spans over several months does not allow an employee to perform the essential functions of the job, said the court. Additionally, this type of time off is what the FMLA was designed for. The court has indicated that in order to qualify for ADA, the employee must be able to work with or without an accommodation, and this type of extended time away from the job does not allow that. 

FMLA leave is designed for long-term leave requests for medical and family needs. In Wisconsin, 12 weeks of unpaid leave is offered to most employees. ADA leave is available to individuals with disabilities. A person who requires leave from his or her job, and who has been denied, may choose to consult with an employment law attorney to see if the case could be pursued in the courts. 

Source:, "When does ADA leave become unreasonable? Courts & EEOC say...", Rachel Mucha, Dec. 4, 2017

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